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Jan 18, 2019

The Ethereum Hard Fork is Delayed – But What does it all Mean?

The core developers of Ethereum have called for a delay in the activation of Constantinople, just hours before the long-awaited hard fork was scheduled to go live for Ethereum, who are the third-largest cryptocurrency in the marketplace.

The fork had been scheduled to go live at block 7080000 on January 16, but the last block processed by the network at the time of broadcast was 7075654.

The reason they decided to postpone the hard fork was that security researchers identified a potential vulnerability in one of the software upgrades. They stated in a public release that security researchers, namely ChainSecurity and TrailOfBits, are running an analysis across the entire blockchain, and although they did not find any further cases of this vulnerability, there is still a non-zero risk that some contracts could be affected. And it is because the risk is non-zero,  a decision was reached to postpone the fork. That simple.

But what is a Hard Fork and what the heck does Constantinople have anything to do with it? What is going on here?

A fork is a change to a blockchain protocol and there are two types - a soft fork and a hard fork. Soft forks are backward-compatible, meaning that nodes within a network can still recognize newly coded blocks implemented by the soft fork.

A hard fork, on the other hand, is not backward-compatible and newly created blocks cannot be recognized by the network’s native nodes, meaning a new network will have to be created to cater to new blocks using an updated protocol. A prime example of a hard fork is the creation of Bitcoin Cash in the wake of the Bitcoin hard fork of 2017. Please listen to Crypto and Blockchain Talk Episode31 to learn more about the Bitcoin fork.

The main goal of the Constantinople fork is to ease the future transition of Ethereum from the Proof-of-Work (PoW) mechanism to Proof-of-Stake (PoS), making savings on costs and increasing the efficiency of the network.

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